Who are the Dokkaebi in Korean Mythology?
Dokkaebi (도깨비) are legendary creatures from Korean mythology and folklore. These beings are similar to goblins or trolls in Western lore and are known for their mischievous nature.
In the article below, WHE presents a brief overview of Dokkaebi:
Dokkaebi are often depicted as fearsome creatures, but they can also appear humorous or grotesque. They might have horns, bright red eyes, and wear traditional Korean clothing. They often carry a club known as “dokkaebi bangmangi,” which they use to create gold and control the night.
Dokkaebi love games and challenges, particularly the game of ssireum (traditional Korean wrestling). They challenge passersby to a match, granting the winner gold and often causing mischief to the loser.
Role in the pantheon
Dokkaebi are not inherently evil; instead, they balance between mischief and benevolence. While they play tricks on bad people, they can also reward good people.
One popular belief is that dokkaebi arise from inanimate objects stained with human blood. Another theory suggests they originate from the spirits of animals or even from the spirits of the deceased who had unresolved grudges.
There are a few items that are uniquely associated with dokkaebi, such as the “dokkaebi gamtu” (a hat that makes the wearer invisible) and the aforementioned club.
In recent years, the concept of dokkaebi has been modernized and popularized in various Korean dramas, movies, and literature. For instance, the 2016 Korean drama “Goblin” (titled “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God” in English) features a dokkaebi as its main character.
In Korean culture, dokkaebi are celebrated for their playful nature, and they remind people of the consequences of their actions, as these creatures reward the good and punish the bad.